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Results - Fine Works of Asian Art December 2013

Results - Fine Works of Asian Art December 2013

 
A Scholars Desk: A Quest for Perfection

A Scholars Desk: A Quest for Perfection

 Departments

Sir Fitzroy '007' Macleans James Bond books sell for £26,000

In September 2008, Lyon and Turnbull sold an extremely unusual collection of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels.
Sold for £26,000, the collection included a first edition, first issue of Casino Royale, first editions of Moonraker, Diamonds are forever, For your eyes only, The spy who loved me, You only live twice, and Octopussy, second impressions of Live and let die and Dr No, and a fourth impression of From Russia with love.

The interest in this collection was mainly focused around its provenance. From the library of Sir Fitzroy Maclean Bt., often considered to be one of the main inspirations for the character of James Bond, these volumes held a special attraction for collectors.

Sir Charles McLean, son of Fitzroy said: “The books have been in my father’s library since he died in 1996, and the family decided they should be sold so that they can be treasured by a collector of Ian Fleming’s works. They gave my father much pleasure and I hope they will bring someone else the same”.

Fitzroy not only knew Ian Fleming, and his brother the author Peter Fleming, but moved in similar social and professional circles, Ian Fleming working for naval intelligence in World War II, Sir Fitzroy moving between diplomatic and military roles – he was a founder member of the S.A.S. and had connections with S.I.S. – otherwise known as MI5.

Born in 1908, Ian Fleming spent his early years at Eton, moving onto to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. In 1931 he joined Reuters but it was during World War II that Fleming began to gather his insider knowledge of secret operations as personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence at the Admiralty. After the war Fleming began to develop his Bond stories from his house, Goldeneye, in Jamaica. Casino Royale, the first Bond volume, was published in 1953. Over the next decade, until Fleming’s death in 1964, over 40 million copies of Bond’s adventures were sold – truly putting James Bond on the map as one of the 20th century’s greatest fictional icons.

Simon Vickers, Book Specialist at Lyon & Turnbull, said: “Various models have been suggested as the prototype for modern fiction's most famous hero, and of them all Sir Fitzroy Maclean - diplomat, war hero, traveller, clan chieftain and outstanding public servant - is one of the most plausible.”

Maclean, like Fleming, went to Eton College and came from an Anglo-Scottish background. In 1935 Maclean was Third Secretary at the British embassy at Paris before moving to the British embassy at Moscow, where he witnessed the Soviet show trials which Fleming was then covering for Reuters news agency.

Travelling with and without permits through Central Asia in the 1930's, as he described in his classic memoir; ‘Eastern Approaches’, the Soviets naturally assumed Fitzroy was aspy. Although Fitzroy later denied being a spy in the early 1950's, when the Cold War was at its height, he was asked by Stewart Menzies, head of SIS, to do a recce to gather more information about a possible Soviet invasion of Turkey via the Caucasus. He did so, being debriefed on his return by the double-agent Kim Philby - a classic Bond scenario!

There were other incidents among Fitzroy's wartime exploits that were straight out of James Bond. One was the successful kidnapping at gunpoint of the Persian collaborator with the Nazis, General Zahidi. Another episode had murkier associations. In 1943 Fitzroy was due to leave Cairo in a Liberator plane bound for London. At the last minute he received instructions to delay his departure. The Liberator mysteriously crashed into the sea off Gibraltar, killing all passengers. Among them was General Sikorski, leader of the Polish government-in-exile. Several theories have been put forward to explain this incident, including the infamous accusation that Churchill was responsible, but Fitzroy privately suspected Philby, who was in the Spanish section of MI6 at the time. Even though Maclean may not have thought of himself as a spy, he certainly had connections with British intelligence, as well as an almost legendary background with daring exploits as Sir Winston Churchill's personal envoy to Tito behind enemy lines - something that Fleming, working in Naval Intelligence in the Admiralty, could only aspire to.

Sir Fitzroy Maclean’s collection of James Bond novels was accompanied by ephemera, papers and photographs from Sir Fitzroy’s library, including the copy of his passport that accompanied him on his famous travels in central Asia in the 1930’s, and that formed the basis of his successful book Eastern Approaches.

For more information contact Simon Vickers: simon.vickers@lyonandturnbull.com
or Cathy Marsden: cathy.marsden@lyonandturnbull.com